Others Who May be Eligible
There are a number of others eligible for veterans' burial benefits if the person has
provided military-related service. The list is quite long and includes civilians who
were involved with military efforts during war-time. Members of the National
Guard and Reserves with 20 years of service are eligible. Some Public Health
Service personnel are also eligible. You should inquire if you believe you might be
entitled to such benefits.
Persons Not Eligible
Parents, siblings and others, even if they are dependents
Those with a dishonorable discharge
Those convicted of subversive activities and capital crimes
The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing military funeral
honors. "Honoring Those Who Served” is the title of the DOD program for
providing dignified military funeral honors to veterans who have defended our
Upon the family's request, Public Law 106-65 requires that every eligible veteran
receive a military funeral honors ceremony, to include folding and presenting the
United States burial flag and the playing of Taps. The law defines a military funeral
honors detail as consisting of two or more uniformed military persons, with at least
one being a member of the veteran's parent service of the armed forces.
The DOD program calls for funeral home directors to request military funeral
honors on behalf of the veterans' family. However, the Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration cemetery staff can also assist with
arranging military funeral honors at VA national cemeteries. Veterans organizations
may assist in providing military funeral honors. When military funeral honors at a
national cemetery are desired, they are arranged prior to the committal service by
the funeral home.
The Department of Defense began the implementation plan for providing military
funeral honors for eligible veterans as enacted in Section 578 of Public Law 106-65
of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2000 on Jan. 1, 2000.
Questions or comments concerning the DOD military funeral honors program may
be sent to the address listed below. The military funeral honors.
Department of Defense
Directorate for Public Inquiry and Analysis
Room 3A750, The Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
|Military Funeral Honors
"Honoring Those Who Served"
Veterans Burial Benefits
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The Department of Defense began
the implementation plan for eligible
veterans as enacted in Section 578
of Public Law 106-65 of the
National Defense Authorization
Act for FY 2000 on Jan. 1, 2000.
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|Veterans' Funeral and Burial Benefits
Spouse and Dependents
A spouse and dependents of an eligible veteran are entitled to burial in a national
cemetery even if the veteran is not buried there.
A spouse who remarries a non-veteran may claim burial rights from the prior
Spouses receiving military pay and who die in a military medical facility are eligible
for military transport to the nearest national cemetery or no farther than the last
Adult children of veterans are entitled to burial benefits only if disabled and
All veterans are entitled to burial in a national cemetery, a grave marker (regardless
of the cemetery), and a flag. Spouses and dependent children are also entitled to a
lot and marker but only in a national cemetery.
There will be no charges for opening or closing the grave, a vault or liner, or setting
the marker in a national cemetery. Depending on the circumstances, a family will
be responsible for all other expenses including transportation to the cemetery.
Death during active duty. All funeral expenses will be paid by the military—body
preparation, casket, transportation to the place of disposition, interment (if in a
national cemetery), and marker. In addition, next of kin are entitled to a "death
gratuity" of $12,000.
Death due to a service related injury. There is a $2,000 "burial allowance" for
these veterans that may be used to cover some of the funeral director's expenses,
the casket, and transportation to the cemetery. IF death occurred in a VA facility,
transport of the body to the cemetery will be paid, provided it is no farther than the
last place of residence.
Burial not in a national cemetery. There is a $300 "interment allowance," but it
is unlikely that will cover opening and closing or vault charges, let alone the cost of
the lot. Although a marker is available at no charge, the private cemetery will
probably have a setting fee.
Non-service related death in a VA facility or while collecting a VA pension or
disability compensation. There is a $300 "burial allowance" which may be used
to defray some of the usual funeral expenses. Although burial in a national
cemetery is free to these veterans, all other mortuary expenses are the
responsibility of the family. Transportation to a national cemetery (not farther than
the residence of the deceased) will be provided only if the death occurs in a VA
facility. The $300 interment allowance applies when burial is in other than a
Death of a veteran outside a VA facility, not receiving military pension or
compensation. The $2,000 and $300 benefits do not apply, nor is there
reimbursement for transportation to the cemetery. The lot in a national cemetery,
any required vault, interment, a marker, and flag are the only burial benefits. If
interment is in other than a national cemetery, the family is responsible for the cost
of the lot, opening and closing charges, the vault, and any fee charged for setting
the government marker if that is selected. The family must also bear all other
|Spouse, Dependents, & Others Who are Eligible
Memorials are available to all veterans, spouses, and dependent children buried in a
national cemetery and will be set without charge. For veterans who died before
Sept. 11, 2001, markers are available to them —not to the spouse or dependents—
for use in other cemeteries unless the grave has already been marked by a private
memorial. For veterans who died on or after Sept. 11, 2001, the government will
provide a headstone even if the grave already has a private marker. The installation
cost must be borne by the family when in a non-government cemetery. Several
styles of markers are available and must be consistent with existing monuments.
Niche markers for cremains are also available.
Inscription must include name, branch of service, year of birth, year of death—in
this order—and may include emblem of belief, rank, and decorations earned. At
private expense, additional items—such as nick-names and terms of endearment—
may be added but must be approved by the VA.
Miscellaneous Benefits & Information
You may not reserve space in a national cemetery ahead of time; arrangements are
made only at the time of death. Therefore, there is no guarantee that spouses will
be interred side by side.
• Burials in a national cemetery are not usually conducted on weekends.
• National cemeteries provide space for both body burial and cremated remains.
• Check with the cemetery regarding grave site adornments other than natural cut
• Military honors or a funeral honor guard may be available from nearby military
installations or veterans groups. Fly-overs are reserved for those on active duty at
the time of death.
• A flag is provided on request for the burial of any veteran. Apply through the VA
and pick up at a U.S. Post Office. Family members may wish to purchase a flag
case for later display, available through private sources.
• Next of kin, other relatives or friends may request a "Presidential Memorial
Certificate." More than one may be requested.
• A family may apply directly to the VA for all benefits. Although it may be
convenient to let the undertaker do so, you may wish to ask if the mortician
charges for submitting claims.
• When the body of a veteran without next of kin is unclaimed from a VA facility
and the estate is without sufficient assets, the VA will assume responsibility for
• Other than for sea burial, there are NO casket requirements for routine body
burial. An undertaker handling the unclaimed body of a vet must supply something
more durable than cardboard, unless the body is to be cremated.
• "No-fee" passports are available for family visiting overseas grave-sites or
• The National Cemetery System may be asked to do a search to locate anyone
interred in a national cemetery. In addition to general vital statistics, you will need
to know the state from which the veteran entered military service.
• There are STATE-run veterans’ cemeteries that may offer the same or similar
benefits, with some restrictions. For a listing of VA cemeteries, check http://cem.va.
|Government Provided Grave Markers
|Miscellaneous Benefits and Information
|Department of Defense Veterans Requirements